Guess the Embouchure Type – Wycliffe Gordon and Wynton Marsalis

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “Guess the Embouchure Type” post and this video offers a closeup look at two great players, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and trumpet player Wynton Marsalis.  Take a look at their embouchures and see if you can guess which embouchure type they have.

It’s not easy to tell based on what you can see if this video, but if you know what to look for you might be able to make an educated guess. Since I’ve seen several other good videos of Wynton Marsalis playing up close (and already pointed his embouchure type out in a video here), it seems pretty clear that he has a Low Placement embouchure type.

Wycliffe Gordon is a little more difficult.  His mouthpiece placement is really close to half and half, which might make him also a Low Placement type, but I suspect that he has a Medium High Placement embouchure type.  Around 4:57 to 5:17 we get a pretty good look at his placement and when he takes a breath in particular it looks to me more of a downstream placement than the upstream placement.  The downstream type is more common than the low placement upstream type also, but to really tell for certain we’d have to put him on a transparent mouthpiece to tell for sure.  If he ever comes back to play in Asheville I’ll be sure to take my transparent mouthpiece and a camera along!

What do you think?

Thanks to Paul T. for spotting and suggesting this video.

Paul T.

Thanks for posting this, Dave. He looks like Low Placement to me, as I mentioned, especially in comparison with more recent videos (late 90’s and later).

What clues are you picking up on his inhalations that say “Medium Placement” to you?


I’m just looking at how his lips appear to line up just before he attacks and it looks as if there’s more upper lip inside at that time. Sometimes what you see on the outside of the mouthpiece looks a little deceptive. Look at my video “The Brass Embouchure and Air Stream Direction” at 4:15 and see what I mean. Keep in mind, I’m guessing with Wycliffe. It’s really hard to say.

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